March 26th 2010. Cpl. Todd Nicely, 26, was leading a patrol in Lakari, Helmand province, south Afghanistan, with 12 Marines of the 1st Squad, 1st Platoon, Company F, 2nd Battalion, 2nd Marines when his life changed. He and his squad were walking in staggered formation, and they were at the foot of a bridge when he stepped on a Improvised explosive device made by 40 pounds of home made explosives: a small clic sound, and then an enormous blast broke the silence, knocking down the whole patrol. Cpl. Nicely was thrown in the air in a cloud of dust and debris, and when he fall, almost on the river bank, he was still coscious. He cried out in pain, twice, and he immediately understood how serously wounded he was: much of his right arm was gone, just like his left hand and his right leg, while his left leg was barely attached. Also, he had something like a shrapnel throuth his jaw, that come out his left cheek, and an abdominal wound with part of his bowel protruding, his friend remembers.
Still he never thought he would die. He did not want to die, he did want to go back home to his wife.
His comrade in arms were the first to rush to Nicely, then 6 minutes later came the helicopeter, and Todd was taken to the military hospital, first, and then to the Walter Reed Medical Center Army in Bethesda.
When he woke up, his first thought was for his fellow comrades: “Anyone else was hurt?”
Afterward, a long journey of rehabilitation started. In a year and half, Cpl. Nicely had to learn to walk again, this time by using carbon fiber prosthetic limbs, to shave, with his new artificial hands, to eat, gripping a knife to cut the meat included. He received the Silver Star, the Medal of Valor and the Purple Heart, but at the same time he had to learn to do everything again, counting just on his mechanical arms that doesn't ract to muscular stimulus.
A big help come from Joshua Chamberlyn Society, that will pay Todd's bills for the rest of his life, and from the Stephen Siller's Tunnels to Tower Foundation, that, with the help of Gary Sinise's Foundation (Forrest Gump Lt. Dan Taylor), built Todd a new home in Lake Ozark, Missouri, that he shares with his beloved dog, Xerses, a Bulldog like the mascotte of his battalion. A home complete with smart tecnologies, like elevator, automated closets, ramps..
Recently (february 2014), Todd separated from his wife and now is his mother Julie to take care of him, but thanks to his inner strenght and his smart house, he is pretty autonomous in almost everything: cooking, driving his car, empty the garbage, light a cigarette.
September 11th changed his life, triggering his decision to join the Marine Corps, “put me in the infantry”, he demanded before being assigned, and March 26th was the second turning point of his existence. Nevertheless, Cpl. Todd Nicely, quad amputee, will always be a Marine. Even now, without regrets: He still plays war videogames, his dog tags are kept on hand, and his pick up is painted in a military green.